Last week was one of the most tiring weeks of my life. On Saturday, March 8, the Cheyenne River Youth Project held an event called Passion for Fashion. At the event, middle school and high school girls pick out prom dresses, get their hair, makeup, and nails done, get a spa treatment, and choose accessories to match. Everything is free and is made possible by donations.
Even though all the supplies were taken care of, we still did an unbelievable amount of work. We got help from a group from Emerson College in Massachusetts. The group was great. They were such dedicated workers and we were lucky to have them. I loved meeting all these new people because they had such interesting backgrounds and stories to tell. They also asked me questions that made me think about my own experience here.
The first day and second days they were here we did inventory. Inventory is just a fancy word for counting. We counted for hours on end. I have never seen so much makeup in one place. There were over 1,000 eye shadow palettes!
Counting was the least of our worries. Starting Wednesday we had to decorate. It sounds like fun, and it was, but the expectations were very high, so we worked hard and for many, many hours.
We split up into two groups. One was in charge of making the decorations for the gym. Ours was responsible for the eating area. Pamela, a volunteer here and friend of mine, was our group leader. I love her. She is so sweet and talented. I also liked that we had a clear direction of what to do, but she was still flexible if we had ideas. I really respect her leadership and I hope that if I am in that type of situation I can handle it like she did.
Our room was supposed to be like a Japanese tea room. It turned out beautifully, but everything was quite time consuming. That was because Pamela envisioned having origami flowers and cranes everywhere. A boy from the Emerson group and I had the idea to make lanterns out of Christmas lights, so we folded those for a while, too.
I also took on the task of making a cherry blossom tree. I had a love-hate relationship with this tree. Lizzy and I made about thirty paper mache tree branches, but most of them crumbled under their own weight so we only used eight. It also did not work where I thought it should go. However, I am really proud of myself for sticking with it and making it work. Four different people told me to give up on it, but I had already invested so much in it that I couldn’t let it go. It turned out great despite all the problems I ran into.
Meanwhile, the others were working on transforming the gym. They did a great job considering they had such a huge space to fill. March 8 was International Women’s Day, so they made the gym look international by having the Seven Wonders of the World as the backdrop for the runway. I loved hearing about their progress because people would just update us by saying, “We finished building the Eiffel Tower, but the Taj Mahal still needs work.” I thought hearing that was amazing and hilarious at the same time.
All of our work truly paid off in the end. Passion for Fashion was one of my favorite days here. Decked out in our ugly, outdated dresses, we helped the girls with their hair, makeup, nails, and picking out dresses. I was part of the facial area. Apparently I was really bad at it, but one of the girls showed me how to do one by doing it on me. I was glad to connect with one of the girls personally like that.
I also got my own prom dress, which was completely unexpected. The zipper was broken, so I was allowed to take it. I never thought I would get my prom dress in South Dakota.
The entire day was great, but the best part of the night was by far the fashion show. It was amazing to see that the girls had transformed inside and out. Many of them were not very confident in themselves coming in, but the audience could see how beautiful they felt when they walked down the runway. It was incredibly moving. I feel like every minute of our time paid off in that moment.
When it was all over, we said goodbye to our Emerson friends. The volunteers were supposed to clean up, but it was too hard for us to take down all the work we had done. Instead, we chatted by the sphinx and Great Wall of China.
As difficult as it was to push through the hours and hours of work we had to do, I was so lucky to be a part of such a remarkable event.